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wwhy is my toner not working

Why Your Toner Isn’t Working

If you’ve incorporated a toner into your routine and have yet to understand what the hype is all about, read on for four reasons it may not be living up to your expectations.

Toner was the very last product in the 10-step skin care routine to earn a permanent spot in my personal regimen. I always thought that toners were primarily designed to control excess oil and since my skin type is mostly normal, sometimes dry, I didn’t think I needed one.

After I learned that toner can actually benefit all skin types by removing impurities left over from cleanser and boosting the absorption of products like serum and moisturizer, I was game to try it.

At first, the step seemed like one that I could take or leave without any noticeable benefit or detriment to my skin. But after sticking with it (I use the Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner), I noticed that my skin was beginning to look brighter and more even and was less prone to dryness. I haven’t looked back since.

Below are some mistakes and misconceptions that I learned about using toner along my own journey from skeptic to disciple.

You’re using the wrong type of toner for your skin type and concerns.

Alcohol-based astringents or witch hazel toners might be what first comes to mind when you think of toners, but the category is much more diverse than that. Look for one of the four types of toner below, depending on your skin type and goals.

Hydrating Toner


If you have dry, dehydrated, or sensitive skin, an extra layer of moisture in the form of a hydrating toner can be exactly what you need to keep your skin from getting flaky, red, and scaly. These toners often contain lightweight hydrators like hyaluronic acid and bamboo water.

Exfoliating (or Acid) Toner


Who doesn’t love a multi-tasking product? Exfoliating toners can be formulated with a small amount (less than 1%) of AHAs like glycolic or lactic acids or BHAs like salicylic acid to perform some light pore and skin-smoothing housekeeping, or a higher dose (2-10%) to completely take the place of your exfoliating step. Learn how to best incorporate one into your routine here!

Brightening Toner


If you’re looking to treat forms of hyperpigmentation like acne scars or dark spots, a toner that contains brightening ingredients such as vitamin C, rice water, or licorice extract can be beneficial. These formulas are also great for achieving a more radiant and even complexion.

Shop popular brightening toners here.

Cleansing Toner 


There have been times when I’ve double cleansed my skin and there ‘s still leftover makeup and impurities sitting on my face. Toners give skin one last sweep to ensure a thorough cleanse. Some formulas go the extra mile with cleansing ingredients like amino acids and purifying mud.

Your application technique might not be the most effective.

There are two ways to apply toner: By pouring it onto a cotton pad and swiping over the face and by pouring it into your hands and patting onto your skin. The choice is mostly down to personal preference, however, when deciding, take your skin concerns and the formula you’re using into consideration.

If you have oily/acne-prone skin and you’re using a cleansing toner, applying via the cotton pad method is best since the pad will help facilitate the removal of any leftover impurities that your cleanser may have missed. You may also want to avoid putting your fingers on your face if you don’t have to.

For dry or sensitive skin types who who use a hydrating toner, for example, pressing the formula into skin with your hands can aid in absorption and ensure your skin is drinking up all the moisture available to it.

You’re waiting too long to apply your next products.

One of the purposes of toner is to help the rest of the products in your routine penetrate better. There’s no need to wait for your toner to dry before moving onto your next step. Think of your skin like a sponge. It absorbs the soap best when it’s wet. Applying your products that follow – like those with effective active ingredients like serums – can help maximize their benefits, and in turn, help you achieve your skin goals faster.

Your expectations are too high.

Toner is a great product that can be beneficial for all skin types, however, it’s not the type of product that’s going to transform your skin on its own. Think of it as one essential cog in the wheel that is your flawless complexion.

Wondering why your eye cream isn’t working? Click here. 

Wondering why your cleanser isn’t working? Click here. 

Wondering why your acne products aren’t working? Click here. 

Wondering why your moisturizer isn’t working? Click here. 

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